You probably want to avoid creating more upheaval and stress for your child. After all, the divorce was stressful enough, and you are only beginning to adjust to your new reality.
Perhaps the biggest adjustment was the parenting plan the court ordered. It may have been especially difficult if your former spouse refused to negotiate with you or made little effort to communicate with you to make it work more smoothly. You may be wondering if you have justification to ask the court to modify your custody order.
Do you need a modification?
The main concern of California family law courts is the well-being of the child. If the parenting plan you have in place works and provides the best possible situation for your child, the court is not likely to consider changing it. Stability and consistency are critical for a well-adjusted child, and you should avoid seeking changes for trivial reasons. The court may consider a modification for the following reasons:
- You believe your child is in danger at the other parent’s house, or there is domestic abuse taking place in the presence of your child.
- Your child has expressed valid concerns about being at the other parent’s house.
- The other parent has demonstrated a pattern of ignoring the court order or the parenting plan you settled together.
- Your child’s custodial parent has died, and you are unable to take full custody at this time.
- You are the custodial parent, and you want to move with the child to a new school district or far away from the other parent.
For relocation issues, the court may be especially reluctant to modify a custody order. This is because family law advocates generally believe it is best for the child to have equal access to both parents as much as possible, so you will have to present the court with a solid argument to defend your motives for moving. You may also need to demonstrate that the move will not interfere with your child’s relationship with the other parent.
Any modification of a child custody plan must support the best interests of the child without unjustly denying the parental rights of both parents. You may be able to resolve any custody conflicts by attempting to communicate with your ex-spouse. However, since there is so much at stake, it is always a wise idea to seek legal counsel during any disputes related to your divorce or custody orders.